Chances are you’ve forgotten all about 61-63 14th Street, right next to the Ankle & Foot Specialists of Hoboken. That spot was once the more or less forgettable Liberty Bar & Grill, so you’re forgiven for, well, forgetting it. Plus, the Liberty shut down in 2014 and has been an empty shell ever since, and in a town filled to the brim with places to eat and drink it’s easy to forget a place that isn’t even there any more.
But if you’ve walked to the uptown post office recently, you may have noticed that the Liberty Bar and Grill isn’t just shut down—it’s gone. Work has finally begun on the restaurant and residential building that will replace it, a mere three years after the land was sold. The cause for the delay is simple: Instead of a simple renovation and switch-up of the menu, the developers (who include Manhattan restaurateur Rohit Bawa) have a much more ambitious plan.
First of all, according to Jersey Digs the restaurant Bawa is creating—as yet unnamed and unspecified—is going to seat about 150 people, so it’s not an intimate spot. Bawa has assured residents that his new place won’t be another sports bar or nightclub, but rather a family-friendly restaurant with a liquor license.
Secondly, the spot will also be the site of 3 condo units, two of which will have private roof decks. Most interestingly, the basement of the location will have a state-of-the-art rainwater retention and release system that will gather runoff from the roof, store it in tanks under the building, and then slowly release it into the city’s drainage system. For a town that’s working really hard to avoid ever experiencing a Superstorm Sandy again, that’s probably the best use of a basement we can think of.
Bawa seems to know what he’s doing; he’s part of the team that launched Delicatessen the Empire Diner in Manhattan. That implies that the new eatery will have a “comfort food” focus similar to those two spots—certainly not a bad thing, especially considering the sophisticated twists that each of those restaurants brought to the concept.
Whatever he comes up with at the spot, it’ll be a welcome addition to that stretch of 14th Street, which has seen an influx of new construction in the past few years and could certainly use a distinct restaurant and bar to complement the Hudson Tavern, City Bistro, Los Olas, The Madison, and Bin 14. Right now it’s just a big hole in the ground—but just wait a few more months.